Wyoming’s Wind River Country: A dreamscape for outdoor recreationists

“The fact that I can leave the office and take a hike on public lands within 10 to 15 minutes is one of my favorite parts of living in Lander. It’s hard for me to think of many places in the lower 48 with that kind of access, but it’s totally normal in Wind River Country,” said Amy Rathke, Wyoming Outdoor Council community engagement director.

Sweeping southeast from the mountain wonderland that is Togwotee Pass, Wind River Country stretches out across mountains, foothills, forests, sagebrush flats, rivers, and more. A total of 5,242,085 acres of public land accounts for 85 percent of the county—all of that land is yours.

Red Canyon, Cinthia Hayford

On your land here in Wind River Country, you can cross-country or backcountry ski on countless groomed trails and pristine acres of powder, or you can rev up your sled and snowmobile on the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail.

Skiing on Togwotee Pass. Photo: Charlie Manganiello

Togwotee Pass, Charlie Manganiello

On this land of yours, you can load up a backpack for three weeks or three hours of exploring in the Wind River Mountains, Absaroka Mountains, or Wyoming Mountains. Wander for miles, even making your way to the other side of the Wind River Range and into the next county before you reach any public land.

These 5 million acres are there for you to explore the burgeoning mountain biking trail networks that stretch across the county. From Johnny Behind the Rocks in the southwestern red-dirt region of the county to climbing up Sinks Canyon in central Fremont County to the downhill track in Dubois’ valley of the warm winds up north, the mountain biking scene is unreal. Pair that with miles of pleasantly quiet highways, and find your find your cycling roll here.

This public land of yours is fed by 626 pristine lakes and reservoirs, 2,057 miles of glacially fed rivers and streams. And those waters are home to millions of fish. Populations of the stunning cutthroat and rainbow trout, the monstrous brook and Mackinaw, the elusive golden all call Wind River Country home. Try your hand.

It’s not clear how many miles of cliffs rise from the floor on Wind River Country, but it’s enough to keep a lot of climbers happy. Home of the International Climbers’ Festival each year, Lander is a rock-climbing mecca, and the ascending opportunities stretch well beyond the Lander region.

If you aspire to roam the countryside in American West style, you’ll find cowboying hasn’t gone by the wayside in Wind River Country. You, too, can saddle up, round up and rope cattle, and return to a home-cooked meal and campfire conversation. The numerous dude and guest ranches in Wind River Country will give you the opportunity to explore the great outdoors of Wyoming while experiencing the pampering we all desire on vacation.

Dude ranch experience, Gary Kunis

Rathke is one of many visitors who have discovered the outdoor recreation of Wind River Country and stuck around.

“The sense of space provided by our public lands in Lander has spoiled me for life,” she said. “We don’t have to elbow people out of the way to go recreate. (Just don’t let the word get out!)”

Whether you seek thrills and exploration, guidance and TLC, or something in the middle, your outdoor recreation adventure in Wyoming’s Wind River Country has what you need: room to breathe, room to roam.

Brooks Lake, Cinthia Hayford